New York rocker Joan Jett has made headlines lately for a new clothing line that she has unveiled. It is called the Joan Jett for Tripp NYC fashion collection for Hot Topic.
Jett explained her foray into fashion. “I’ve talked about doing something like this over the years but nothing ever came to fruition. Daang and Ray [at Tripp NYC] really get my styles and I didn’t have to do the nuts and bolts of the design. They take my essence and translate my vibe and we go from there.”
Jett said that her essence and vibe are tough to explain.
“It’s tough to put words to your own self. It sounds kind of cliché to say but minimalist, rock ’n’ roll, edgy and dark, but they all apply to my style — androgynous because I don’t have a bunch of curves,” she said.
When asked why she chose Hot Topic for her outlet, she pointed out their rock style choices. Hot Topic was launched in 1988 as a “music-inspired accessory destination” and now also carries clothing, calling itself “the loudest store in the mall”.
“I’ve known about Hot Topic for years and years because on the road there are very few places in certain areas of the country where you can find kind of rock ’n’ roll clothes,” she explained.
While all that sounds like a good matchup for Jett, it does seem curious since she and her record label sued Hot Topic back in 2013. Now it sounds like Joan Jett doesn’t even remember that.
Joan Jett and her label, Blackheart Records Group, sued the retailer for trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition, and false advertising over their Blackheart Clothing Co. brand.
Jett and partner Kenneth Laguna trademarked the terms “Joan Jett and the Blackhearts” as well as “Blackheart Records” back in the early 80s. They registered “Blackheart Records Group” in 2005.
At the time, Hot Topic said it was shocked that they would be slapped with a lawsuit by Jett since, they asserted, Hot Topic “takes the rights of artists very seriously, and has in fact compensated Ms. Jett over many years in keeping with mutually agreed-upon license agreements for the sale of tee shirts featuring her image.”
“This lawsuit is a surprise to us, and we are confident in our rights to use the Blackheart brand name,” Hot Topic said.
In fact, Hot Topic insisted that they have trademarks on the “Blackheart” designation themselves for “retail stores, apparel, lingerie, accessories, cosmetics and more, with some uses going back a decade to 2003.”
“In contrast, Blackheart Records has for years abandoned trademark filings for the use of the Blackheart name on apparel and accessories, and when we contacted them a year ago about acquiring the Blackheart URL, they never indicated a problem with our use,” they said in the filing.
But Jett’s label said that their relationship with Hot Topic soured when the retailer stopped working with them on official “Blackheart” merchandise and launched their own unapproved line separate from their agreement.
“After experimenting with legitimate and illegitimate items that use and/or are sold under the Blackheart Family of Marks, [Hot Topic] commenced their own line of clothing under their own new ‘Blackheart’ brand,” the label said in their filing.
“Hot Topic, who previously purchased and distributed products — including clothing — made by Blackheart and featuring Blackheart’s famous owner, rock ’n’ roll legend Joan Jett, willfully and knowingly sought to co opt the Blackheart name and trademark intending to profit from consumer confusion, Blackheart’s well-known brand and Jett’s well-known persona,” the complaint further read.
The lawsuit was settled only in May of this year. Perhaps the quiet settlement of that suit has something to do with the new launch from Jett?